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“Ask a Priest: What If My Boyfriend Really Isn’t Ready for Baptism?”
Q: My boyfriend has been attending RCIA and is going to be baptized in a month, but he doesn’t believe in anything. He said he is going because he knows it will make me happy and because he wants to marry me and I am Catholic, not because he believes in any of it. I want him to be baptized, but as his sponsor if I say he has come to God during his Rite of Acceptance, I would be lying. Would it be a sin to let him go forward with a baptism he doesn’t believe in? Babies don’t believe in anything and they are baptized, so would the baptism still work if he doesn’t believe in it? He is not an atheist. He says he thinks God could exist but has no proof. If he is doing it voluntarily but only because I want him to, not because he believes, is it wrong to continue with the baptism? I’m too embarrassed to talk to my priest about it. I could use some guidance. – T.
Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC
A: From what you say, your boyfriend should not be baptized, and it would a grave deception on your part, as his sponsor, to testify that he’s “come to God.”
Adults need to have a basic faith in order to receive baptism validly. The baptism likely wouldn’t be valid if your boyfriend doesn’t really believe and is only going through the motions. (The situation is much different with babies, since they aren’t putting up any barriers to the grace of the sacrament.)
It would be good to reveal the situation to the priest who is overseeing the RCIA … immediately.
You might want to take some of this to prayer. The decision you choose might have a big impact on your own soul, and if you falsely testify on your boyfriend’s behalf, you might feed his impression that the Catholic faith is little more than window dressing.
In a broader context, you might also want to step back and ask yourself what kind of foundation this would be for your relationship, and what your boyfriend’s behavior shows about his character.
A certain level of interest in the spiritual life and awareness of God’s existence and his plan for life is one of the greatest supports for a solid and deep relationship. And if your boyfriend is blasé about the faith, he might not think it very important for his children, either.
Count on my prayers.
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